Quebec and Montreal Cycling Grand Prix – Preview

The Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec and Montréal are back after a two-year pandemic hiatus, with the two Canadian WorldTour races perfect for this year’s Road World Championships.

The seven-day trip to Canada is usually a long-distance loop for the European-based peloton, but this year the two days of hilly circuit racing in Quebec on Friday and then Montreal on Sunday yield some of the favorites for the rainbow jersey. sky in Wollongong a perfect shot before flying further west around the globe to Australia.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) and a number of their WorldTour team and team mates have all chosen to soften the blow of jet lag by choosing the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec et de Montréal as the last race before the World Championships in Wollongong. This gave both races more prestige and a much better field than the Tour of Britain or other one-day races in Europe.

The Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec and Montréal both take place on winding and hilly circuits, much like the one in Wollongong and thus offer a last chance for riders to test their form, study their rivals and achieve victories that will boost morale. For teams battling relegation from the WorldTour, the two one-day races also offer valuable ranking points, while for Canada it will be a celebration of a successful summer of cycling which has included winning stage of the Tour de France of local resident Hugo Houle.

Each race sees riders tackling multiple laps of a circuit worthy of the World Championships – literally in the case of Montreal which inspired Eddy Merckx’s triumph in 1974.

The runners gathered in Quebec on Tuesday. The race begins Friday with the 201.6 km Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec, which includes 16 laps of a 12.6 km circuit that winds through Parc des Champs de Bataille on the banks of the majestic St. Lawrence River.

Each circuit includes the short climbs of the Côte de la Potasse and the Montée de la Fabrique before a drag of more than 1 kilometer to the finish line on the Grande Allée. The volume of climbing through the 201 km of the race – almost 3,000 meters in total – is enough to soften the punch of all but the strongest riders on the last lap and produce a finely balanced finish.

It is perfectly suited for runners like Van Aert, Matthews and Sagan. The latter two have both won here twice and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Van Aert add his name to the list and thus automatically make him an even bigger favorite for the world title.

The Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal comes two days after the race in Quebec City, with riders transferring along the St. Lawrence River on Saturday.

The second event is the more difficult of the two races, with 18 laps of a difficult 12.2 km circuit in the Parc du Mont-Royal which gives its name to the city. It is a loop with considerable heritage. As well as hosting the rainbow jersey triumphs of Merckx and Geneviève Gambillon in 1974, it was also the site of Bernt Johansson’s victory over Giuseppe Martinelli at the Olympics two years later.

Additional laps were added in 2019 to create a near world championship length race. The extra kilometers remain in 2022, with the peloton facing a distance of 221.4 km at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal.

Each tour includes 269 vertical meters over three short climbs, creating a total of 4,842 vertical meters, similar to that of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. First, the Côte Camillien-Houde (1.8 km at 8%), followed by the Côte de Polytechnique (780 m at 6%, including a portion of 11%).

Like a major world championship course, the summit of the Mont Royal Boulevard climb (800m at 4%) arrives just under three kilometers from the finish line. After a section of false flat and a short descent, the road rears up again in the last 500 meters on the drag to the finish line on Parc Avenue.

World championship ground

Australian Michael Matthews BikeExchangeJayco Belgian Wout Van Aert of the JumboVisma team and Slovenian Tadej Pogacar of the United Arab Emirates team sprint to the finish of the eighth stage of the Tour de France cycling race, a 184 km race from Dole France to Lausanne Switzerland on Saturday 09 July 2022 This year's Tour de France takes place from 01 to 24 July 2022 BELGA PHOTO POOL DAVID STOCKMAN UK OUT Photo by DAVID STOCKMAN BELGA MAG Belga via AFP Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

In September, we could see Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) all lined up at the front of the finish line, like during stage 8 of the Tour de France. (Image credit: Getty Images Sports)

The Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec et de Montréal were created in 2010 thanks to the passion and business acumen of Canadian broadcaster and media owner Serge Arsenault. He helped the UCI make the WorldTour a near-global racing series by including races in North America and can proudly watch his son Sebastien take over the presidency of the event.

Thanks to the hard work of the Arsenaults and the springboard advantages of the races leading well to Australia, this year’s Grands Prix Cyclistes de Québec and Montréal attracted one of the best field ever. The same runners run both races.

The field of 147 includes all 18 World Tour teams, plus Arkéa‐Samsic, TotalEnergies and a Canadian national team.

The names of Van Aert, Pogačar and Matthews stand out on the entry list, but also those of Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers), Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies), Greg van Avermaet ( AG2R Citroën), Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and David Gaudu (Groupama–FDJ), Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-Premier Tech), Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma), Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) and Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious ).

Some may be winding down their seasons after the intensity of the Tour de France, but it will be fascinating to watch Van Aert, Pogačar, Sagan, Girmay, Powless, Bettiol and Matthews go head-to-head before the World Championships.

Van Aert took a month off after his incredible Tour de France but carefully mixed his training with his holidays, including last week when he was in Sardinia for a friend’s wedding. He was second in the Bemer Classic on his return but won the Bretagne Classic on August 28 with a nice final speed bend.

Pogačar was only 89th when he returned to racing in Brittany, but the Slovenian showed his ability in Classics at Strade Bianche, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia last year. He will be looking for a signal of rapid improvement here in Canada and his form as his fall campaign sets up another gear and he is aiming for the world championships.

Matthews traveled to North America early to compete in the Maryland Cycling Classic, but finished in the peloton after the big break from racing stayed away. He will look better this weekend and has a Canadian pedigree; do a Quebec-Montreal double in 2018 and win a second time in Quebec in 2019. Similar results and the 500 WorldTour points for a win would be a boon for his BikeExchange-Jayco team as they battle to avoid relegation.

Sagan also arguably needs a result to get his season back on track and suggest he can be a contender for a fourth world title at Wollongong.

Girmay watched the Tour de France from Eritrea but is back in a final block of races with Intermarché. His historic victory in Ghent-Wevelgem confirmed that he is a winner of the Classic and therefore a contender for the World Championship. He finished second in the Under-23 race in 2021 but looks set and destined to win a rainbow jersey one day. Why not this year after a show of form in Canada?

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) is another underdog who could win in Canada and maybe even clinch a world title. He won the recent Deutschland Tour and finished third overall in the Tour of Poland, then there’s also Powless who finished second at the Maryland Cycling Classic.

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